Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

UKRAINE and Russia are accusing each other of risking disaster by shelling Europe's largest nuclear power plant, occupied by Russian forces in a region expected to become one of the next big front lines of the war.

DIPLOMACY

- Russia has told the United States that diplomatic ties would be badly damaged and could even be broken off if Russia is declared a "state sponsor of terrorism" by the US Senate, Russian News Agency TASS cited a top foreign ministry official as saying.

- Ukrainian President Zelenskiy renewed his call for European Union states to ban visas for Russian nationals to keep the bloc from becoming a "supermarket" open to anyone with the means to enter.

- The United States is concerned by reports that British, Swedish and Croatian nationals were being charged by "illegitimate authorities in eastern Ukraine", Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday (Aug 12).

ECONOMY

- Securing a new US$5 billion loan from the IMF would help assure Ukraine's other creditors that its macroeconomic situation was under control, Zelenskiy's chief economic adviser said.

- Global rating agencies S&P and Fitch lowered Ukraine's foreign currency ratings to selective default and restricted default as they consider its debt restructuring as distressed.

- Russian oil flows to the Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline resumed after more than a week as transit fee payments were unblocked. Supplies had been suspended to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia because Western sanctions prevented paying transit fees to a Ukrainian company, Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft said.

FIGHTING

- Ukrainian forces struck the fourth and last bridge spanning the Dnipro River in the mostly Russian occupied Kherson region, regional official Serhiy Khlan wrote on Facebook.

- Ukraine's military said it now had the ability to strike nearly all of Moscow's supply lines in Kherson. There was no immediate comment from Russian authorities on the report of the attack in Kherson province, or the purported reach of Ukraine's firepower.

- Reuters could not confirm battlefield reports independently.

- Ukraine's General Staff reported widespread shelling and air attacks by Russian forces on scores of towns and military bases, especially in the east where Russia is trying to expand territory held on behalf of separatist proxies.

- Almost one third of Ukrainian territory needs to be cleared of mines and explosives, according to the latest estimates by the ecology ministry. REUTERS

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